Friday, September 4, 2009

discretion is advised

This is a difficult one for me to write, but it is necessary. In fact, it pains my heart that there is a need for me to even point this out. My stomach churned last week when I saw a preview for a show called "Toddlers and Tiaras." It is apparently about really young girls, like 3-5 years old, in "beauty pageants." It also highlights their obsessive mothers who put them into these events. But what's really disturbing is what the little girls are wearing. Since when does mascara, tight leather, and bikinis have anything to do with toddler beauty? Seeing the show advertised for the first time, I couldn't help but think to myself: "who is this show aimed at?" Toddlers certainly won't be watching it because it's on past their bedtime! Forgive me for asking this, but is it for pedophiles to watch? Who else wants to see little girls doing little risque dances with makeup caked on their tiny faces or their crazy mothers who are trying to get attention themselves by exploiting their daughters?! Although I'm trying to control the anger (and heartbreak) that I'm feeling, this really touches a nerve with me. Especially now that I have a daughter...

On a nine month old, the little onesies and outfits are just cute. But I know there will come a time (in a few short years) when I will probably be forced to graciously decline (or return) gifts of inappropriate clothing for my daughter and deal with the accusations of being overprotective or just plain crazy... that time is coming. I pray that I'm prepared for it when it arrives. The sad fact remains that, even though most mothers would never want their child to be looked at as a sexual object, there are individuals in this fallen world who see them as such. If I should encourage that type of behavior by dressing my daughter in a sexually provocative manner (or by allowing her to dress that way when she is older), then shame on me as a mother. I would rather nurture modesty in her from a very young age. In a world laden with child pornography & prostitution, sexual abuse, and rape, it is my job to be protective of my children and their bodies.

Children (girls and boys) should be raised with a Biblical understanding of the body and the importance of modesty. Otherwise, these "toddlers in tiaras" grow up to be immodest teenagers and adults. The bulk of American society today (especially young people) doesn't give too much credence or thought to modesty because it has not been instilled in them. In addition, they are pressured to conform to the societal "norm" by their peers, which means wearing the latest fashions and trends regardless of how inappropriate they are. But thanks be to G-d, not everyone dresses according to the latest trends nor do they teach or allow their children to.

There is a book, The Beauty of Modesty by David Vaughan, which makes some excellent points regarding modesty, its need, nature, and nurture. Regarding the nurturing of modesty, Vaughan deals extensively with the place of the parents' responsibility to teach modesty. While I will most definitely teach and model modesty as an example for my daughter(s), it is ultimately their father who will instill it in them. Why? Because every little girl craves attention from their daddy and those little girls grow up to crave attention from other men. However, if the father is lovingly present and willing to teach his daughters a Biblical view of their bodies, they won't have that void in their lives which leaves them longing for male attention. Many girls and young women dress inappropriately today because their fathers don't have the nerve (or tough love) to tell them to do otherwise.

It seems that the issue of modesty has taken a (very far) back seat in the believing world today. It is not expounded upon or taught from the Scriptures as much as it should be. It is a "non-essential" item, that is, it doesn't determine or deny the salvation of a person's soul. But perhaps we need to take it a little more seriously because it is certainly important. In today's continually degrading society, I would say it is very important. As Vaughan notes, "Immodesty is no small sin. It is not simply a silly and vain form of self-display. It is a snare to serious sin." Leading others to sin is not something I would wish to be involved in, nor would I wish it on my daughters. Chances are, you probably won't be seeing little Elli in magazines, television commercials, or beauty pageants. But if her beauty simply causes others to praise G-d's creativity and is wholeheartedly reserved for her husband, then my duty and joy as a mother will be complete.

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